Bolaski expected to plead guilty in long-disputed Windsor County slaying

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/6/2020 10:30:58 PM
Modified: 1/6/2020 10:30:27 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A 36-year-old Springfield, Vt., man has agreed to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and return to prison for fatally shooting another man on a Windsor County softball field almost 12 years ago, capping a long-running legal saga concerning a killing the defense has maintained was in self-defense.

Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill last week filed an amended charge of involuntary manslaughter against Kyle Bolaski in the 2008 killing of Vincent Tamburello Jr.

A change of plea hearing is slated for Bolaski on Thursday in Windsor Superior Court, and he could face a sentence of seven to 15 years in prison, according to the state’s sentencing memorandum in the case.

The case has gone before six judges, and Bolaski served almost three years and five months in prison, much of it in a Kentucky facility, after initially being convicted of second-degree murder in a 2011 jury trial.

But that was overturned in 2014 by the Vermont Supreme Court in a ruling that said the trial judge prematurely excluded evidence about Tamburello’s mental health in the months leading up to the shooting and also gave improper instructions to the jury.

Bolaski, who was 24 at the time of the shooting, has been free on bail for several years pending resolution of the case, and could be required to serve at least another 3½ years in prison to reach the minimum under the plea deal.

Prosecutors say Bolaski was with a group of friends who had been sparring with the 32-year-old Tamburello, a Boston resident who had been living in the Springfield area and had several run-ins with police in Vermont before the Aug. 17, 2008 shooting. Tamburello, who allegedly had knocked one of Bolaski’s friends to the ground in an earlier altercation, brought out a stun gun and then started chasing Bolaski with a splitting maul, striking his truck more than once.

Bolaski grabbed a .30-06 rifle from the truck and shot Tamburello in the leg. But he also fired a second shot, hitting Tamburello in the buttocks and striking his femoral artery, causing him to bleed to death.

“From an objective standpoint, the first shot removed the victim from the fight and rendered him no longer a threat,” Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill wrote in the memorandum explaining the prison sentence prosecutors are seeking.

The memorandum said Bolaski made a series of “extremely poor decisions,” including confronting Tamburello at the ball field and insulting and acting threateningly toward him. “This conduct merits a significant punitive response in the form of a prison sentence for the purposes of retribution, specific deterrence, and general deterrence,”

However, Cahill added that Bolaski has a minimal criminal history, has complied with court orders, and has accepted responsibility for his actions, which count toward a lesser sentence.

Cahill declined to comment beyond the sentencing memorandum

In his filing, defense attorney Brian Marsicovetere called the incident a “brief, chaotic and unanticipated moment in time” and that his client did not intend to kill Tamburello. A toxicology report revealed that Tamburello had several drugs in his system, including Xanax, methadone, Paxil, Restoril, Oxazepam, THC and cannabinoids, according to the Supreme Court ruling, and the defense had sought more information about Tamburello’s mental health.

“Mr. Bolaski has accepted responsibility for his lack of judgment and insight when he fired the second shot,” the defense memorandum said.

“Vengeance and retribution are of limited value in determining a just sentence in this case,” Marsicovetere wrote.

A call and message to Marsicovetere were not returned Monday.

After the slaying, then-Windsor County State’s Attorney Robert Sand asked a grand jury to decide whether Bolaski should stand trial for Tamburello’s death. In November 2008 the grand jury returned an indictment charging Bolaski with a sole count of aggravated assault for the shooting, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Marsicovetere.

But Tamburello’s family pressed for a murder charge, and in 2010, Sand withdrew from the case and Franklin County Deputy State’s Attorney John Lavoie took over, filing a motion to amend the charges to second-degree murder and aggravated assault for the shooting.

The case finally went to trial in 2011 and Bolaski was convicted of second-degree murder and given a sentence of 25-years to life.

After the Vermont Supreme Court overturned his conviction, Bolaski was released from prison in June of 2014 and has remained free on bail as prosecutors began pursuing a second trial. Cahill took over the prosecution of the case last month.

Messages left for Tamburello’s family were not returned Monday. The family have long been outspoken about justice for their son, and have set up a website detailing their thoughts on the case.

Anna Merriman can be reached at or 603-727-3216.

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